The Odera Chronicles

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JR Handley Blog HeaderHey Space Cadets, how is everyone on this fine day?  I’m doing well, and wanted to bring you my news!  My former editor, Corey D Truax, and I have signed our next series with a small publishing house, Theogony Publishing.  This umbrella publishing house is a part of the larger and more dynamic Chris Kennedy Publishing.  Corey and I scoped him out together, in a totally non-stalker kind of way, and liked how he operated. He’s professional, and another veteran of America’s Armed Forces. I think Corey liked that he was a sailor too, but I forgive them both for their imperfections

So, what to say about The Odera Chronicles without giving too much away?  This story tells the tale of Alexis Monroe, one of the first female infantrymen in the US Army. Alexis was an only child, her dad was a Seabee and veteran of the wars in Mesopotamia. After her mother died, it was just the two of them, so she became the son he wanted. Alexis strove to please him and honed her inner tomboy. Shortly after she graduated college, females were being allowed to join the combat arms of the military. Alexis enlisted into the infantry.  Alexis did well at training, very well. When those scores were combined with her college degree, she was quickly advanced to the rank of sergeant. Despite how well she did, her fellow grunts always assumed she was promoted because she was female. When she graduated from training at the NCO Academy, she was given an out of the way assignment. Out of sight, out of mind, or so the Army thought. Her job was simple; guard a warehouse, don’t look inside.  Of course, she looked – and a grand adventure ensued.  To find out more, you will have to read the book.

As you all know, I will keep you up to date with our plans for the series, but for now, less really is more!  I really enjoyed working with Corey as he edited The Sleeping Legion series, so I think this collaboration will be a blast. I really hope that the fun we have translates onto the page. We both really want our readers to enjoy this little tale of galactic woe. So, if you’ve enjoyed the shenanigans over here in the Handley Trenches, then re-enlist on the insanity train!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are owned by JR Handley.

Villiany Rediscovered

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Hey Space Cadets, how are you today?  I’m doing well, and getting back into the swing of writing again.  Still waiting on my edits for the two short stories I wrote, but that’s life ya know!  As for book three, Operation Breakout, I’m at 37,124 words and fixed an issue that was holding me up.  I’ve not yet started my writing today but I will once I put my son to bed.  Also, I was wrong about being at 38k yesterday.  I was at 36k, but I am still hoping for the 40k by the end of the year.  In addition to working on book three, I’ve outlined another series I want to write after I finish The Sleeping Legion Series.  More on that in the coming year!!  I think I will hold off on my New Carthage Series, I love that idea too much to attempt it before I’m ready and I’m passionate about wanting to do it justice.

 

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Anyway, I was re-reading the blog of a fellow science fiction author, even with two books publication it still feels weird saying that!  While reading, I found a great article about the nature of villainy in literature.  Joe Vasicek writes great science fiction, and maintains an excellent blog with enough traffic to make for lively debates.  Don’t believe me, check the number of older posts on his Hugo Award blog entries!  LOL!  His post about villains in literature, both practically and as a trope, was well written.  I highly recommend you read his blog and comment.  If you’d like, we can continue the discussion here as well.  While I like his work, one point he didn’t address was on the fleeting nature of villainy in modern times because villainy is often in the eye of the beholder.  Too often we view the world through relativistic lenses, even when it isn’t appropriate.  Yes, sometimes someone is so beyond the scope as to be universally evil (Hitler, Lucifer, the woman who cancelled Firefly), but that isn’t always the case.  Times change and so do social mores and values.  Yesterday’s heroes often become todays villains… an example of that can be seen in how some view our Founding Fathers.  The once heroes of our nation are only talked about in the context of their slave ownership or treatment of women by modern society.  I’m not a fan of this, revisionism never sits well with me and I tend to judge people within the context of their time, but you shouldn’t ignore this in a discussion on villainy.  What do others think?  If you have an opinion, sound off below or check out Joe’s post here!

 

Speaking on the topic of villains, a YouTuber vlogger I follow, Kristen Martin, recently made a video on the subject!  She breaks down how to write believable bad guys, which is on pointe for my fellow writers out there.  She even found a check list for writing better villains, written by Jerry Jenkins.  Check that out, then watch her video!

 

 

And since I also posted the ‘How To’ video, here’s another from Jenna Moreci whom I also follow on the YouTubes.  She’s a bit salty, but gives good advice.  Her novels ain’t bad either!  If you follow the links to her, you can jump straight into that rabbit hole and find her various links on her YouTube channel.

 

 

 

 Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!   

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section.

WRITERS ARE CRAZY PEOPLE

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Hello Space Cadets, today is another throwback post.  I think this story was posted way back when, before anyone had found this post so I decided it needed an edit because it’s too funny to go unloved.  This happened when I was writing book one, The Legion Awakes, in the local Starbucks.  The very one whose store number became Lance Scipio’s beloved 6907th TAC Regiment.  I was spread out over the long corner table organizing the story, so I could fix issues Tim C. Taylor had with the combat scene.  The scene in question was part of what became the novella The Demons of Kor-Lir which is still available to those who sign up for my mailing list.

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Like I said, I had to share what happened.  I had just finished a very early draft and sent it to my editor, Tim C. Taylor.  This was before Corey Truax came into the picture.  Anyway, as I poured over his critiques, I noticed that he suggested I bone up on my science and medical knowledge, since my death scenes didn’t read true.  Hey, I was a grunt… we haven’t trained to kill people with swords in a few years!  And swords in space?  Blimey, what sort of Army do you think I served in?  For some reason I’m envisioning Stripes meets The Jetsons but I digress.  I read Tim’s comments, until I had a flash of insight!  I realized my aunt was an ER nurse, so I decided to call her up to go over some things. 

 

While still sitting at the previously mentioned Starbucks I called my aunt – we talked about decapitations, death grips, arterial spray and how long it takes someone to bleed out.  Upon finishing my phone call I noticed that the Starbucks had gotten unusually quiet, the long table I was sitting at was suddenly empty and people were reacting as if they’d suddenly smelled something foul.  I swear, I almost sniffed my armpits to make sure we were good!  Then one of Virginia’s Finest, Officer Friendly, and yes names have been changed to protect the innocent, walked over and sat in the chair opposite mine.  When he had my attention, he got chatty.  “Everything alright here?  Anything you need to confess?  Do you need a lawyer?” 

 

Rarely one to be at a loss for words, I quipped a reply chalk full of my usual shenanigans.  “Nothing to see here officer, move along,” before laughing nervously.  Officer Friendly wasn’t smiling.  Sighing, knowing I needed to figure out what was really going on, I asked and waited for the big reveal. 

 

Officer Friendly was right there to clear it up, “So, murder plans this weekend,” he asked.  Was it ironically?  Meh, I don’t know but I was instantly relieved that there wasn’t something more serious.  Did I just type that?  Nothing serious about murder?  Man, the Army seriously warped my mind! 

 

Smiling, I simply informed him that I was working on my novel and consulting my experts to improve the text.  “I’m not a serial killer Officer, I’m just a writer.”  Luck was on my side, he chose NOT to check my browser history and all the murderous research I’d been doing.  The best part about all of this, it was the first time I called myself a writer out loud and around strangers.  Hopefully the times that follow won’t require armed law enforcement and a concerned public!  Well, unless the officers are protecting me from adoring crowds as I outsell the great JK Rowling!!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are owned by JR Handley.

World Building Wednesday: Sand Tables

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Hello Space Cadets, how is everyone doing today?  What’s that?  I can’t hear you, sound off like you got a pair!  And if you don’t, fake it till you make it!  So, now that I have your attention, let’s have a little chat over coffee!  Today I decided to give you get a sneak peek into how I wrote my battle scenes.  Let’s dive into the world of sand tables, sometimes called Recess for Soldiers!

 

So where to start, first let me start by discussing what a sand table is.  In a nutshell, a sand table is a surface bearing a three-dimensional map of a given piece of land.  According the Merriam-Webster, it’s “a table bearing a relief model of a terrain built to scale for study or demonstration especially of military tactics.”  Basically, I a super special map!  The military has used them since forever, long before Christ was even a Corporal.

 

Now that I’ve explained what a sand table is, I’ve decided to show you the one I made for my first novel.  Yes, The Legion Awakes, which will be published on December 19th, 2016.  It’s an improvised sand table for a combat scene in the novel involving a battle that my main character is involved in.  Wanna know more, read the book!  You’ve probably already read this, but please let me be prideful for just a few words!  I’m currently writing The Sleeping Legion Series set in the military science fiction world of Tim C. Taylor.  That book will be out soon, so I wanted to share some of how I got here.  Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let us return to our regularly scheduled programing.

 

Anyway, the key to a successful sand table is that they provide you with the opportunity to visualize the battle space in three-dimensions.  This allows you to better describe the field as you’ve envisioned it.  It allows you to envision all of the obstacles which might get in the way of the armies you are describing, though this could work for any type of writing, combat or otherwise.  I supposed I would be remiss if I didn’t also tell you that these can be used to model towns, and other generic settings for your works in progress.  Not as exciting, but certainly necessary.  They are used by the military for strategic visualizations, are extremely helpful with strategic planning, but can be used by everyone!!

 

Without further adieu, my masterpiece!

 

My Sand Table

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LEGEND:

Cups: Akoni Mountains

Green Sponges: Dense forests

Brown Building Blocks: Old Government Tower and Akoni City

Blue Paper: Water Features; Dynia River and Lake Charon

 

Now that we’ve covered this in depth, feel free to sound off in the comments below!  And if this tickled your fancy, click the follow button and never miss out on the insanity or shenanigans from the Handley Trenches!

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 –> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are owned by JR Handley.

 

Beta Reading Recon Team

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Hello Space Cadets, do you yearn for action and adventure?  Does your soul beg to shake free from the shackles of Mother Earth?  Do you love reading, diving into fictional universes and then discussing it in depth?  Basically, there’s a call out for all of the Geeks, Nerds, Fan boys/Fan girls and all around science fiction fanatics.  If this sounds like you, and you want to help an author launch his debut novel, head on over and join the Legionnaires!!  Be a part of the adventure, shape it and mold it until it is a piece of literary perfection that Heinlein would be proud of!  🙂

 If you want to join the recon teams, you need to first join the Legion, which you can do here.  You can then discuss your thoughts on the BattleNet, but you don’t need to do so to chat away.  You can find join the discussion here.

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section

Why your editor admires you (and why you might not realise this)

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Hello Space Cadets, I wanted to share a post which has touched me personally. As I slog through the edits of book two, Fortress Beta City, I find that I need to continually remind myself that this is for the better.  As I scrolled through blogs I follow, this jumped out at me.  I definitely needed to hear this today.  A brief discussion has me wondering about the quality of what is about to go live.  If they let me, I’d polish it until nothing was ever published.  Because I’m currently anxiously awaiting the return of my second novel from my editors, with another in the final beta review.  I’m in the thumb twiddling, nail biting stage of WAITING.  I pass the time writing book three and hoping the first two are good enough to warrant publishing this.  Reading this post, when the revisions for book two are so massive, was exactly the pep talk I needed. Thank you to the lovely writer, follow her blog, it is worth it!!

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

 

–> I reblog this on the assumption that the author of said post used all images are used in accordance with copyright laws.  She’s a smart cookie so I’m sure they did!

Nail Your Novel

5730710531_07b49820e8_zWhen I write a report about an author’s novel, it usually runs to at least 25 pages of detailed notes and developmental suggestions, plus annotations on the manuscript. Sometimes I’ve written 60-page reports. Although I make my responses constructive and helpful, and discuss strengths as weaknesses, I know it’s daunting to receive such a screed. I know my writers think ‘crikey, she needed to say all that? Did I get it so wrong?’

And this: ‘I thought the book was perfect. What kind of shambolic half-wit does she think I am?’

Well today, I’d like to let you know how the editor sees your book.

My open letter to the edited

Although it may be hard for you to believe when you see the size of my report, I know your manuscript represents aeons more time than the hours it takes me to glide through with my editorial eye…

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